According to my informal poll of early readers, one of the most popular characters in the book is Godzilla. Instead of a list of resolutions, I thought I'd start off the year at Killer Chicks with a quick excerpt from the scene when Maggie Lee first meets him.
For more information about CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN, which will be released on January 24th (but is available for pre-order now!) please visit my website.
**please note that this excerpt is not the final edited product...any errors are all my fault
Like I said, it took me two days to remember the lizard, and that was just because Katie’s grandfather reminded me of her favorite toy.
I let myself into Theresa’s house with the key she kept by the solar-powered garden gnome in one of those fake rock/key-hider things.
Their house was in one of those cookie-cutter neighborhoods that dot the landscape of New Jersey, tucked between industrial parks, protected Green Spaces, and spots where George Washington had stopped to take a leak during the Revolutionary War. The streets in the development all had bird names.
Theresa and Dirk had bought on Cardinal Court, not because it was the best house in the area, but because cardinals were our mom’s favorite bird. Theresa had said it was a sign. Personally, I don’t believe in signs, premonitions, vibes, or luck, but I hadn’t said a word, because I’d figured a dead-end street was probably a safer place to raise a kid.
It was dark as I fumbled for the light switch.
“It’s about time.” The man’s voice, English and dripping with disdain, scared the shit out of me. Who the hell was in the house? Pressing my back to the wall, holding my breath, I tried to figure out where he was. All I could hear was the chirping of crickets.
“What are you waiting for?” His voice, coming from Katie’s room, was familiar. Haughty. Full of contempt. “I said, ‘What are you waiting for?’”
I exhaled in relief. Alan Rickman. It was Alan Rickman’s voice. Theresa must have left a Harry Potter DVD running. I’d once suggested that I thought Professor Snape was too scary for a three-year-old. Big mistake. I got the whole, “parents know what’s best for their kids” speech, as though having a child somehow improved the judgment of an adult.
Switching on the light, I made my way to Katie’s room to turn off the movie and find the dinosaur.
Flipping the switch just inside her door, I illuminated her pink and frilly bedroom. The TV was dark. That was weird. A quick glance at the bed told me Dino wasn’t there, so I dropped to my knees to look underneath.
“Hello? I’m over here.”
Goosebumps sprang to life all over my body. Why did it sound as though Professor Snape was talking to me? I shook my head. I was being ridiculous. I lifted the bed skirt and peered beneath.
“I’m not under the bed you imbecile. I’m over here.”
Rocking back on my heels I dropped the bed skirt. It really did sound as though he was talking to me, but that couldn’t be. I closed my eyes and forced myself to take a slow, deep breath. No need to panic. I was just tired. And stressed, definitely stressed.
“Here, you moronic biped. By the mirror.”
I opened one eye and slowly swiveled my head in the direction of the dresser. No one stood in front of it.
“Up here! Up here! ON the dresser!”
Slowly, I raised my gaze. Not believing what I was seeing, I blinked. I still saw it. Squeezing my eyes shut, I counted to ten. I looked again.
Yup, the lizard was still standing up and waving at me.
I gulped. Holy crap, I’d lost my mind.
I crawled over to get a better look at Katie’s pet lizard in its glass terrarium. About six inches long (most of it tail) it was muddy brown with a dark stripe down its back. It wasn’t what I’d call a cute and cuddly pet. And it didn’t look anything like Alan Rickman.
“I’m starving. You’d better be here to feed me. And I need to be misted. All this dry air has just wreaked havoc with my complexion.”
“Would it kill you to say ‘please’?” I asked.
The little guy fell over backward, his tail twitching. He scrambled back up and stared at me with those shiny eyes of his. “You can hear me?”
I nodded. Heaven help me, I thought a lizard was talking to me. Apparently my father had been right to compare me to my mother. Like her, I seemed to be delusional too.
“I don’t believe it.” His tail twitched.
He rubbed his chin with one of his front feet as though he was trying to make sense of this odd development. I waited for him to speak again, hoping he could make sense of all this. Pathetic, I know.
“You are here to feed me, aren’t you? I haven’t eaten for days.”
“What do you eat?”
“Just that. Crickets. I could eat other things, but I prefer crickets.”
I swallowed hard. The idea of eating a cricket disgusted me. “What other kinds of things?”
“Fruit flies, meal worms, maggots.”
I gagged. They were even grosser than crickets! “Okay, okay, where do they keep your food?”
“In a bag in the closet.”
Opening the closet door, I found a plastic bag containing a couple of live crickets. It vibrated in my hand as the bugs jumped around. It took all my self-control not to drop it on the floor and stomp it. I hate bugs the way Indiana Jones hates snakes. “They’re alive.”
I swear I saw him lick his lips. “What are you waiting for? Feed me!”
“Please what?”“When you say please, I’ll feed you.”
“You have got to be kidding me.”
I dangled the bag above the terrarium. Not only did I think I was conversing with a lizard, but now I was trying to teach him manners. That probably made it official that I’d lost my mind.
“Please, feed me the fucking crickets!” he bellowed.
“No need to be snippy about it.” I hastily untied the plastic sack, making sure the insects couldn’t jump out and touch me. Pushing aside the glass lid of the enclosure, I dropped the entire bag of bugs inside.
“Food! Glorious food!”